Here Comes the Sun
The Beatles may have well predicted the future for their mother country as the Sun now shines bright in the United Kingdom. According to the National Grid, almost 25 percent of Great Britain’s electricity demand was served by solar at midday Friday. The clean energy source generated 8.7 gigawatts, which is more than the previous record set on May 10, when solar generated 8.48 gigawatts.
— NG Control Room (@NGControlRoom) May 26, 2017
“We now have significant volumes of renewable energy on the system, and as this trend continues, our ability to forecast these patterns is becoming more and more important,” Duncan Burt, who oversees the National Grid’s control room operations, told the Independent.
“This is a colossal achievement … and sends a very positive message to the U.K. that solar has a strong place in the decarbonization of the U.K. energy sector,” Paul Barwell, chief executive of the Solar Trade Association, pointed out.
As Barwell noted, this marks the first time solar panels generated more electricity in the U.K. than nuclear plants. Natural gas and coal remain the country’s top suppliers of electricity, however.
Stacking up on Renewables
This milestone is obviously a win for renewables and a sign that nations are moving toward cleaner energy sources.
Solar power remains the top bet among many, including the United States, where solar panels accounted for 60 percent of California’s record-breaking clean energy usage in March. Expect trends similar to these to continue in the coming months, as several other places pledge to switch to renewables sooner than later.
The steady rise of solar energy is made possible in part by the decrease in the cost of solar panels. At the same time, it doesn’t hurt that the solar industry is also providing jobs in places desperate for them, such as the U.S. As Hannah Martin, head of energy for Greenpeace UK, told the Independent, “All around the world, solar power keeps beating new records as costs come down and power generation goes up. In the U.S., more people were employed in generating electricity from solar last year than from coal, oil, and gas combined.”
In fact, the total number of Americans working in solar is higher than the number employed by Google, Facebook, and Apple combined. Cleary, the Sun isn’t just shining in the U.K.